Close Encounters: The Next 500 Years

Organized by Plug In Institute for Contemporary Art with the Winnipeg Art Gallery, Urban Shaman: Contemporary Aboriginal Art, PLATFORM centre for photographic + digital arts, Gallery 1C03, La Maison des artistes visuels francophones, North End Arts Centre and Graffiti Art Programming Inc.

Curatorial Collective: Candice Hopkins, Steve Loft, Lee-Ann Martin and Jenny Western.

The world is at a crossroads. Now is the moment to reconfigure our notions of time to reveal alternative ways of thinking and being for the future. In Close Encounters: The Next 500 Years, Indigenous artists imagine the future within the context of present experiences and past histories. By radically reconsidering encounter narratives between native and non-native people, Indigenous prophecies, possible utopias and apocalypses, this exhibition proposes intriguing possibilities for the next 500 years. “We all in different measure have carved out the future,” observes Hopi photographer and filmmaker Victor Masayesva in his book Husk of Time. “We are all clairvoyants, soothsayers, prophets, knowingly assuming our predictions.”

Close Encounters brings together over 30 Indigenous artists from across Canada, the United States, South America, Europe, Australia and New Zealand, including newly commissioned work from Rebecca Belmore, Faye HeavyShield, Kent Monkman and Edward Poitras. Jimmie Durham’s long-term sculptural work Pole to Mark the Centre of the World (at Winnipeg) challenges widely held ideas surrounding space and location, while James Luna’s poignant installation Spirits of Virtue and Evil Await My Ascension addresses issues of ritual and the passing of time. Close Encounters showcases artists and artworks that collectively invent provocative futures from a diversity of perspectives and practices.

With its myriad histories, trajectories, tensions, collisions, and selfimage(s), the city of Winnipeg offers an intriguing juxtaposition for these artistic mediations. Close Encounters: The Next 500 Years presents international Indigenous perspectives in a city that in many ways also epitomizes the future of Aboriginal people in Canada. Works in multiple venues throughout the city will serve as catalysts to invent different ways of thinking, acting, and being in the world of our shared future. At this pivotal moment in time, Close Encounters invites engagement with the speculative, the prophetic and the unknown.